Camille, Outbound to Finland

I have been in Finland for 6 months now and with over half of my exchange done I’m starting to realize that this year won’t last forever, and to be completely honest it’s kind of scary. Everyone told me that my year would go by so fast, and even though sometimes the weeks felt like years it’s crazy to think we’re already in 2018. My oldies have left and my newbies are here and I have my return flight booked for July and everything is just rushing by.

So the biggest event that has passed since my last journal was Christmas. Christmas in Finland, although the same in theory as in the U.S. is very different. Break started just 3 days before Christmas, but Christmas here is celebrated on the 24th and there is no christmas eve or celebrations on the 25th. On the 24th we woke up early and rice porridge and lots of fruit for breakfast, then we began cooking the dinner. In between cooking we went to church, played games, sang, and cooked some more. For dinner we dressed up and ate together as a family, we completely stuffed ourselves. After dinner SANTA CAME, here santa comes to your house and gives you your gifts and it was honestly such a sweet experience seeing my little sisters get so excited seeing santa sitting in the living room. I also got my white christmas, it snowed the whole day and it was absolutely beautiful. Christmas break was spent mostly at home enjoying each others company, but my host family also took me to cross country ski and are really trying their best to help me learn. All and all Christmas was great, and even though it was hard not being with my family back home It was so special to be able to experience Christmas in a different culture.

New Year was Celebrated how it’s celebrated in the U.S., I spent the night with my friends running around our little city enjoying ourselves. We watched a huge firework show on the river that runs through the city and screamed and danced and laughed as we welcomed the New Year, and I can easily say it was one of the highlights of my exchange so far.

In Finnish high schools there is a tradition called Vanhojentanssit, which is comparable to Prom. For this dance everyone finds a partner, and for about three months you learn and practices traditional ballroom dance and there is also a portion of the dance choreographed by the students. To dance the women must wear long ball gowns and the men suits with tail coats, and we perform our dances for basically the whole city. Everyone has been working so hard and I’m so excited to perform for everyone.

For the last couple weeks it has been freezing, and when I say freezing I mean trying to fit 3 pairs of socks into your shoes because you don’t want to lose a toe. With the cold comes snow, and even though some days I wish it would all melt, it makes the short dark days feel brighter and longer. I have to say even though I’m some varying degree of freezing everyday I do appreciate the winter and the joy it brings with it, and I appreciate my parka so much more.

We’re already a month into 2018, and I’ve been ridiculously busy but I wouldn’t want it any other way. So with the days getting longer and no end of winter in sight, I can honestly say I’m excited to see what opportunities the new year brings me.

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